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AI and nonprofit creative: Balancing automation with ethics

I’m a big fan of AI. That may be an unpopular opinion—but hear me out.

Just like Photoshop, Illustrator or Word, AI is a fantastic tool in our creative toolboxes. I like to view it as a creative companion, working to help automate repetitive tasks, serve as a starting point in the brainstorm process and keep the ball rolling when I’m stuck.

That said, it isn’t the solution for everything. While AI is a great tool, it’s just that—one tool. The reason why I love AI is that you, me and any other human using it is needed to shape and determine the final output. And what I get out of the tool will look completely different from what you do.

I know many aren’t ready to dive headfirst into the world of AI, so I wanted to spend some time in this blog walking through the use cases for AI in creative, ethical considerations when using the tool and the importance of human guidance.

Who knows, by the end of this, you may be a fan of AI, too.

Ethical considerations when using AI

Before we dive into use cases, I think it’s important to spend some time on ethics.

When using AI, we’re held to the same ethical standards as we are for any other piece of creative work we develop.

AI makes it very easy to “set-it-and-forget-it,” and while the efficiencies are a major bonus, it also makes it that much easier to overlook the ethical guidelines we typically see in creative work.

As your nonprofit starts to integrate AI into your processes, I would advise establishing a set of ethical guiderails that take into consideration things like over-reliance when it comes to automation. Here are a few questions I like to ask myself during the creative process:

  • Is a logo being removed?
  • Does clothing need to be more appropriate?
  • Is the impact or need misrepresented with respect to the original resource?
  • Does what I'm creating align with the organization’s mission and values?

When using AI, it’s important that we maintain as much authenticity as possible. Questions like these will help you find the right balance.

Use cases for AI in nonprofit creative processes

One of the reasons I love AI is because of its ability to streamline the creative process—which for nonprofits with strapped creative resources is a huge benefit.

From personalization to brainstorming to repetitive tasks, AI tools can help organizations tailor messaging and imaging quickly to resonate with their donors. There are countless ways AI can be used within your current processes. Here are a few examples:

  • To suggest content based on data trends and user interactions with your historical content
  • To kickstart the brainstorming process for campaigns
  • To create, retouch, remove or expand objects in an existing image
  • To automate personalization in things like newsletters, appeals, videos, ad sets and more
  • To respond to questions via an AI-driven chatbot on your website
  • To optimize existing copy or imagery for A/B testing
  • To translate copy for improved localization

I’ve found that AI is ideal for pattern-oriented tasks, not big picture, creative thinking, so keep that in mind as you consider areas to implement AI into your existing processes.

Why human guidance is essential

Regardless of the tool used, critical thinking is required when working with written or visual resources. Since machines lack critical thinking, human guidance is essential.

The true value of AI in nonprofit marketing lies in its ability to complement—not replace—human creativity and strategic thinking.

Full transparency: I used AI to help me kickstart this very blog. I fed it prompts about ethical guidelines and creative use cases. What it spit out I mostly agreed with, but it lacked any sort of personality or context. While it was a great starting point, hitting publish and moving on would have resulted in a blog post that fell flat.

It took my human brain, critical thinking and background to check for accuracy, add context and piece together a narrative so that it was a compelling and human-centered blog post.


There’s a lot of uncertainty—and complexity—surrounding the use of AI in nonprofit fundraising and marketing. I’m a firm believer that AI is a powerful tool in our toolkit but that it also can’t replace the complexities, emotions and nuances of us as humans.

Slowly integrating it into your existing creative processes to help with tactical, repetitive tasks will help your organization become more efficient so you can spend more time connecting with humans on a personal level. No machine will ever be able to replace that!

Gorrasit "Kawi" Vongfak

Gorrasit "Kawi" Vongfak has more than two decades of experience in commercial and nonprofit creative. An expert in AI and user experience, Kawi has worked for organizations like Disney, Razorfish and more. As RKD's Group Creative Director, Kawi provides creative direction for our food bank, rescue mission and animal welfare clients.



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